As the clock counts down to Jan. 1, 2018, California cannabis companies are crossing their fingers for quick regulatory fixes at the local level that align with the set of temporary regulations the state released last week.
When it comes to setting up the local framework for recreational cannabis, Berkeley, California has been ahead of most other California cities, and issued what’s believed to be the first production permit in the state to one of its most storied producers, Om Edibles.
According to Om Edibles founder Maya, Om started as an all-female collective about five years ago in the San Francisco Bay Area. It didn’t take long for the small company to make waves, and they started getting their products into some of the best dispensaries around, starting with the always irie LoveShack in San Francisco.
In 2011, Om Edibles won their first of many Cannabis Cup victories — that year with their peanut buttercup rice truffle, “which unfortunately won’t be able to go through with regulations it looks like,” Maya said. Om Edibles would go on to win nine more Cannabis Cups and three Emerald Cups.
“I think the Emerald Cups are far more valuable because you have to be organic and full sun, so it’s real stiff competition,” said Maya.
We asked Maya what the process was like turning the successful collective into a fully legitimate business entity that’s prepared for the industry shake-up to come. “My whole thing has always been compliance,” she replied. “I’m so nerdy, I always make fun of myself for being such a nerd who wants to pay taxes properly and wants to be treated like a real business.”
With this mindset, Maya knew if she could get her foot in the door to a facility or a permit, she would be golden. “That was number one on my list, aside from the quality of our products which is always number one,” she said.
Maya found her way to ultra-progressive Berkeley, where she had been a long-time vendor at some of the state’s oldest dispensaries that called the city home. In Berkeley roughly eight months ago, she began the process of getting the license with her legal team. They caught a lucky break in selecting a new home where they could create their products.
“When we walked into the property we were hoping to get, the owner already knew us because his wife in hospice had been using our medicine,” Maya said, describing that first visit to their new production facility. “Her name was Debbie. She passed away three weeks after we got the place and she was the one who told the landlord, ‘Give this spot to Maya, she’s making medicine.’”
Maya called Om Edibles’s connection to their production facility “cannabis kismet.” The company erected a plaque in the new property, dedicating the facility to Debbie.
After securing the production facility, Om Edibles filled out an application with the City of Berkeley a month and a half ago. They were told they were the first to apply.
After some minor electrical work and getting a few things in the commercial kitchen up to code, the future looked promising. Maya said they were “lucky enough to have a city official who was willing to work with us.” One of the upgrades needed in the existing kitchen was the addition of heavy duty carbon filters, which would ensure that the neighbors would not be bothered with any fantastic smells. Maya pointed to her time as an indoor cultivator, which provided “immediate experience” to the aroma control issue.
After the fixes were made, city officials issued the permit. At the time, the City of Berkeley told Maya they believed it to be the first production permit in the state ready for 2018. She will need to renew it with the city one more time before adult use sales start, however, because their annual permits always end on the Dec. 31. Maya was extra excited, as the permit was numbered “Angel Number” 44, which is said to double the vibrations and energies of the angels guiding you.
Maya said she’ll continue to appreciate Prop. 215, the legendary bill that legalized medical marijuana in California, because she said, “All this was built on the backs of patients, and those people had cancer and AIDS, you know?”
We reached out to California Growers Association Executive Director Hezekiah Allen to get his take on the permitting process and to ask if other municipalities might start catching up to Berkeley, now that the state has released its framework.
“Goodness, I hope so!” Allen told Cannabis Now. “The release of the emergency regulations is historic — a tremendous accomplishment that offers great potential and opportunity to California. It all starts with local authorization. Municipalities have great power — and great responsibility — to ensure successful implementation of the California Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act.”
Allen also noted that Berkeley still had a bit of catching up to do despite the early permitting success. “It would be great if Berkeley would change their testing regulations to be consistent with the state regulations,” he said.
TELL US, are you looking forward to Jan. 1 in California?